French MotoGP | Zarco tops chilly Friday FP amid slew of crashes

Johann Zarco - Pramac Ducati

Johann Zarco ended the first day of French MotoGP action at a chilly Le Mans with the fastest time on home soil as the field ‘survived’ two sessions littered with crashes.

Yet to win a race in MotoGP but a strong performer on local ground, Zarco is considered a tip for victory this weekend on the back of a strong start to the year aboard the Pramac Ducati.

He was one of a remarkab;y few riders not suffer a fall during the afternoon, despite it being dry - if slippery - compared with FP1’s damp conditions. As such, the best times came from FP2 for the entire field, which could prove crucial on Saturday amid a forecast for rain at the time of FP3.

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For now it is Zarco and his countryman Fabio Quartararo standing pretty at the top of the timesheets in what local fans will hope is an omen. It was Quartararo’s first outing since arm pump surgery to fix an issue that cost him victory last time out in Spain.

Maverick Vinales followed his Yamaha team-mate in third position, ahead a third M1 in Franco Morbidelli in fourth place. Pol Espargaro enjoyed his best Friday since joining Honda with the fifth fastest time of the day, heading off his successor at KTM, Miguel Oliveira.

Fastest in FP1, Jack Miller ended the day seventh on the best of the factory Ducatis, ahead of Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, the seven-time MotoGP champion enjoying a welcome boost after a tough start to the year.

Takaaki Nakagami rounded out the top ten, punishing the Suzuki pair of Joan Mir and Alex Rins, whio failed to make it through to Q2 automatically after suffering one each of many crashes occurring at Turn 3. Among the others to also come down included Aleix Espargaro twice (14th), Miller, Pol Espargaro and Quartararo, while Marquez ran off track.

Other notable omissions from Q2 so far include the 2020 French MotoGP winner Danilo Petrucci, who was instead stone last on the Tech 3 KTM.

2021 French MotoGP FREE PRACTICE (1-2 COMB.) RESULTS - Le Mans - Round 5 / 19
PosRiderNat.MotoGP TeamMotoGP BikeTiming
1Johann ZarcoFRAPramac RacingDucati GP211m 31.747
1Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Energy Yamaha Yamaha YZF-M11m 31.892
3Maverick VinalesESPMonster Energy Yamaha Yamaha YZF-M11m 32.136
4Franco MorbidelliITAPetronas Yamaha SRTYamaha YZF-M11m 32.187
5Pol EspargaroESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 32.279
6Miguel OliveiraPORRed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 32.296
7Jack MillerAUSDucati Lenovo TeamDucati GP211m 32.391
8Marc MarquezESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 32.632
9Valentino RossiITAPetronas Yamaha SRTYamaha YZF-M11m 32.659
10Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda IdemitsuHonda RC213V1m 32.711
11Alex RinsESPTeam Suzuki EcstarSuzuki GSX-RR1m 32.752
12Francesco BagnaiaITADucati Lenovo TeamDucati GP211m 32.830
13Joan MirESPTeam Suzuki EcstarSuzuki GSX-RR1m 32.938
14Aleix EspargaroESPAprilia Racing Team GresiniAprilia RS-GP1m 32.946
15Iker LecuonaESPTech3 KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 33.040
16Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 33.117
17Alex MarquezESPLCR Honda CastrolHonda RC213V1m 33.204
18Tito RabatESPPramac RacingDucati GP211m 33.361
19Enea BastianiniITAAvintia EsponsoramaDucati GP191m 33.536
20Lorenzo SavadoriITAAprilia Racing Team GresiniAprilia RS-GP1m 33.955
21Luca MariniITASky VR46 EsponsoramaDucati GP191m 34.147
22Danilo PetrucciITATech3 KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 34.520

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